With all the natural disasters, political upheavals and the scourge of COVID, I’m re-thinking the topic of Hope. Not that I have abandoned its importance, but rather thinking how Hope presents itself and how we react to it.
All this reflection has led me to believe that Hope exists in layers.
Layer One: The Everyday Expression of Hope
We may glibly use the word “Hope”, even as we bless each other with its presence.
“Hope you have a good day.”
“Hope that hamburger is well done.”
“Hope you enjoy the baseball game.”
Layer One of Hope is important, because it places a positive spin on our lives. The word is easy to say. Even easier to share as we convey a genuine forward-looking attitude.
None of us can live without some sliver of hope.
Layer Two: The Hope Shared During Crises
This layer was so evident during 2020’s year of disasters and the leftovers in 2021. With every hurricane, fire, earthquake, pestilence, shooting and angry outburst — people somehow summoned a measure of hope.
“We’re in this together” became a rallying cry. A promise that fortitude could spread. A Hope that community would survive.
People volunteered to clean up the emotional and physical sludge. Organizations asked for donations, and those with giving hearts complied.
The nightly news included a section about inspiring America. We wept with those who wept. We rejoiced with those who smiled through their tears.
Layer Two requires a sinew of courage we all strive to possess. It underscores that even when we suffer, we are not alone.
In the sharing of Layer Two, we relish the pride of coming together, of connecting for the great good, of forgetting for a moment our petty differences.
We discover again what is truly important.
Layer Three: The Darkest, Longest Road to Recovery
When we reach this layer, we discover our inner core. This type of Hope transcends the others, because it has to duplicate itself every day.
Somehow, this Hope must dig past the detritus of personal chaos.
The journey to Layer Three screams at the unfairness of death yet pushes past the grief because life is too precious to abandon.
These are the volunteers who ignore soul-weary fatigue as they prepare another 1600 meals for the homeless in their community.
These are the firefighters, grimy from hours in sooty ash, who find the gumption to return to the flames and fight again.
These are the nurses with plastic marks creased into their faces from 12-hour shifts in the ICU.
These are the workers, sometimes using bare hands, who remove piles of rubble. They carefully place stone upon stone, because they believe a child might still be alive. The slightest mistake might delete all Hope.
The brave souls who deal with chronic pain day after day after day.
The caregivers who continue to serve because they cannot imagine giving up.
Only the bravest survive in Layer Three. From them, we never hear the monotone of complaint.
They continue to Hope although they have no water, no shelter and no clothing. Their lives have been destroyed, yet Hope keeps their hearts beating.
They long to hear from a loved one when all the cell towers are down. They continue to believe and trust in Hope.
These Layer Three folks are the families who take in strangers, because it’s the right thing to do.
This is the businessman who opens his store, because he has mattresses available for bone-weary National Guardsmen and homeless wanderers.
This is the Red Cross receptionist who answers thousands of calls with the same sweet voice.
Hope is alive but presents itself in various ways — depending on the layer we live through and our reaction to it.
This is the writer who continues to pen the words s/he believes in, even when the hate mail continues to come.
I am striving to be courageous enough for Layer Three even as I pray the need for it will not come.
But if it does, may we all be strong enough to persevere — then emerge victorious on the other side.
©2021 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
My Layer One Hope is that my newest book will reach the sales goals. Check out The Year of my Redemption.